“May Contain Feces” | Decoding Labels To Pick the Best Chicken

A group suing the USDA  suggests chicken should be marked with a warning sticker saying “May Contain Feces.”

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| Chicken often contains fecal bacteria, says lawsuit against USDA

| Joel Shannon, 18 Apr 2019

| USA TODAY – A nonprofit advocacy group has sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging the agency has not appropriately responded to their concerns about fecal contamination in the production of chicken and other meats.

The lawsuit was filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The group says it has 12,000 members who are doctors; it advocates for “plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.”

The lawsuit alleges:

“Although USDA implements a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for fecal contamination, this policy applies to visible fecal contamination only. The result is that fecally contaminated meat and chicken products pass inspection as long as the feces on them are not visible to the naked eye.”

The lawsuit also claims the agency has not adequately responded to a 2017 Freedom of Information Act request regarding fecal contamination rates and other data relating to poultry production.

The USDA responded Tuesday to the lawsuit by saying it “disagrees with the underlying assumption that meat and poultry products bearing the mark of inspection are likely to be contaminated with feces,” the Washington Post reports.

Previously published material from the North American Meat Institute says bacteria found on meat products is not the same as “fecal contamination.”

“All raw agricultural products, whether bananas, beef or broccoli, contain bacteria,” the industry group says.

Noting that only specific strains of E. coli are known to make people sick, the Meat Institute says: “E. coli is not considered an ‘adulterant.’ Read more. 

How to Decode Labels You Buy the Best Chicken

By Lindsay D. Mattison

| Taste of Home – A trip to the grocery store can be confusing, especially once you get to the butcher counter.

What is best chicken to buy—organic, air chilled, free-range or something totally different?

I’m sure I’m not alone in my quest to make healthier choices. But as soon as I see all those chicken labels, I freeze up.

I mean, when you’re confronted with so many options—organic, antibiotic- or hormone-free, air-chilled, natural – how are you supposed to know the best chicken to buy?

The Most Common Terms, Defined

It turns out some of these terms do indicate a level of quality, but many of them are throw-away marketing terms. Let’s break them down to help you pick the best option for making a perfect roast chicken.


If you want to keep things simple, buy organic chicken. These birds are fed USDA-certified organic feed, so they’re free of any pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives or animal by-products. They also meet the “free-range” criteria—meaning they have access to the outdoors.

What this label doesn’t tell you is anything about the welfare standards and living conditions of the chicken. If you have the opportunity to meet your farmer, that’s always best.


It’s all about air-chilled chicken! After processing a chicken, you have to cool it down as quickly as possible. Some facilities dunk their birds into cold water, which is effective but can water-log and dilute the poultry’s flavor. Air-chilled chicken is cooled using cold air, reducing the chicken’s temperature without introducing any extra water.

These chickens are especially tasty for making smoky grilled chicken, as smoke adheres better to dry chicken skin.

Antibiotic- or Hormone-Free

Antibiotics are great when you’re sick, but you wouldn’t want to take them to kill bacteria and ward off disease. It’s the same for animals … Read more. 


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